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Shelley Webb, Nursing, answeredThe difference between a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and an MD (Doctor of Medicine) is really a difference in philosophy. While medical doctors (which are based on allopathic medicine) evaluate the disease within their patient in terms of how it affects only certain parts of the body, the osteopathic doctor evaluates the disease within the body as a complex related network. Both types of doctors are licensed to practice medicine, write prescriptions and perform surgery. Both require 4 years of undergraduate study in either pre-medicine or a related science. Both require 4 additional years of medical training before being allowed to take their medical exams (which are comparably difficult but yet not quite the same). Both a medical doctor and a doctor of osteopathic medicine may elect to choose a specialty which would require between 2 and 6 years of additional training.
A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is a parallel branch of medicine to a doctor of allopathic medicine (MD). A DO’s training is very similar to that of an MD -- four years of medical school plus residency -- and he or she has the ability to practice in all branches of medicine. In addition, a DO receives training in the musculoskeletal system through osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), treatment that may feel to the patient similar to experiences with a chiropractor. OMT training provides a perspective on the connection between the muscles and bones and the nervous system, encouraging a holistic approach to the care of a patient.